Scary stuff: The anti-vaxxers have reached a new low.
In an attempt to bypass the “no jab, no play” childcare laws that currently exist in NSW and are expected to be implemented in Victoria, the anti-vaxxers have created a fake “church” — and the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network Inc (AVSN), formerly known as the Australian Vaccination Network, is encouraging people to join, apparently so they can claim a “religious exemption” to vaccinations.
The “no jab, no play” laws require parents to vaccinate their children to attend childcare or preschool — and a 2013 post on the AVSN’s Facebook page recommends the church to parents “in order to get their children into preschool or childcare,” Fairfax Media reports.
Fairfax also reports that the Church of Conscious Living isn’t registered as a church or charity with the federal government’s Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, and appears to have been set up purely for people to claim exemption from vaccination.
Parents who don’t want to vaccinate their kids, but would like to enrol them in preschool, can already obtain a “conscientious objector’s” certificate from their GP after receiving counselling about the risks and benefits of immunisation, and a spokeswoman for the federal department of health told Fairfax Media that setting up a church would not alter this requirement. But virologist Dr David Hawkes told Mamamia he was concerned the anti-vaccination lobby would “use this loophole to campaign for a broader definition of the religious exemption”.
“Then people will be able to say, ‘I’m part of this particular church, I don’t need to get vaccinated,” he said.
Dr Hawkes also said he was concerned the church’s ultimate purpose was to cut off some families’ access to “any source of professional medical advice” whatsoever regarding vaccinations.
“A number of people who are vaccine-hesitant might not have a medical professional as their family health person; it may be a homeopath or a chiropractor,” he said. “(So) the only point of this church is to bypass speaking to a medical professional altogether.”
The church was created years ago; an AVN newsletter back in 2007 announced, “We have decided to create a ‘religion’, so, among other things, we can claim ‘religious exemption’, if the need ever arises, for ourselves and our children.”